While seeking employers that the University of Arkansas System eVersity can help provide online educational opportunities, Christopher Dickie found inspiration.
When Dickie, director of employer relations and community outreach at eVersity, walked into Our House, a Little Rock homeless shelter, and witnessed the work of its Career Center, it was overwhelming.
"The amount of community support it receives, the compassionate staff, and the residents who are fully engaged in the program in hopes of turning their lives around is incredibly uplifting," Dickie said.
Inspired to further the Our House mission to uplift and empower, Dickie began volunteer-teaching life and jobs skills classes to clients.
“During the classes, I am continually humbled to see residents who are facing many obstacles in their lives have a tremendous amount of hope for the future," he said. "They are all capable of doing the necessary work, but only need help navigating the path to success. My main goal is to show them an outline that produces real results toward their future success. I encourage them to continue building a foundation for themselves while at Our House."
It's not just Dickie's will to volunteer that is helpful to Our House. Breanne McLendon, career center manager at Our House, said eVersity's attributes are a good fit for those residents the career center serves.
"A lot of the barriers that were keeping people from enrolling in college have been removed with eVersity, like being affordable and the ability to take one class at a time for six weeks," she said. "Being 100 percent-online and so flexibile is a major incentive to those in our career center. The response time from eVersity staff has been beneficial to clients that have used it and they feel that their questions are being answered. It makes them feel confident in their decision to attend eVersity."
Dickie hopes to continue to provide job skills training, educational support, and serve as a mentor who supports, sustains and encourages those taking advantage of the Our House Career Center.
"It's been a really great experience both personally and professionally," Dickie said. "We have a great product at eVersity and it's rewarding to find people and organizations where we can make a meaningful impact."